Dorothy Talan Quaid: For love of Harleys |

Dorothy Talan Quaid: For love of Harleys

Dorothy Talan-Quaid

It was a big surprise to me when Auburn Harley Davidson announced it was closing – and even more shocking when the building was destroyed by the 49 Fire. Those events left me wondering what Harley owners would do when it comes to parts, merchandise and repairs, with the closest dealers located in Rocklin and Yuba City.

When it comes to merchandise, you may have to shop around for that special t-shirt or official HD chaps, or head to a dealer. But when it comes to parts and repairs, you don’t even have to leave Grass Valley to get your Hog back on the road.

Foothill Custom Cycle is located at 13281 Grass Valley Avenue, off Loma Rica Drive. It’s the building with a couch, table, chairs and a white board out front, under the roofline. There are plenty of Harley Davidson and other company logos on display outside; inside, the shop is filled with bikes on and off the four racks, parts, supplies, works-in-progress and an impressive shelf full of manuals. Owner Ryan Hodges, tattooed, wearing a Harley work shirt and accompanied by his dogs, is right at home in this one-man operation.

Hodges started riding a dirt bike at the age of two, so his love of motorcycles started early. He graduated from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in 1999 and worked in a couple of Harley shops in Northern California before opening his own shop in Nevada County, an area he grew up in and loves. “I had a notion to open a bike shop, got a couple dollars from an inheritance and threw caution to the wind,” Hodges said of that 2005 decision.

He’s been at the Grass Valley Avenue location since July 2007 and, more than four years after opening his first shop door, Hodges is keeping busy repairing bikes and building custom cycles. “Business is good,” Hodges said. “Since the first of the year I’ve had all four of my racks full.”

While his specialty is Harleys, Hodges says he’ll consider working on other makes, depending on what they are. “I don’t have the manuals, I don’t have the specialty tools,” he said about repairing non-Harleys, although he will do maintenance work, such as tire and oil changes. “If it’s just stuff I don’t feel comfortable doing, I’ve got somewhere down in Cedar Ridge that I send them all,” he added.

In addition to service and repair work, Hodges does full and custom Harley builds; there’s a trike in town that he built and a couple of projects in the shop, waiting for his creative touch. “If it can be done, we can do it here, or have the outlets to be able to have it done,” he said. He has some parts and supplies in stock for sale to do-it-yourselfers, such as oil and gaskets, and can order just about anything to be delivered within a day or so. Crash estimates and repairs and emergency motorcycle towing are also on the list of shop services.

Hodges is proud of his 23 years in this community and the relationships he has built, both business and personal. Those contacts serve him well today. “I’m always willing to help and if I don’t know something, I will tell somebody ‘let me do some research, let me make some calls, let me see what I can come up with’,” he said.

Sometimes those contacts ‘smack me up the side of my head’ and point out the obvious solutions, Hodges added; other times, they help solve a difficult problem.

As a one-man business, Hodges does it all; taking orders, answering phones, test driving, turning a wrench, whatever his shop requires. The white board outside, next to the front door, often bears messages about why Hodges isn’t in the shop during business hours, such as ‘test-drive, back at 4:15ish’. When business is booming, Hodges spends much of his ‘off’ time behind closed doors, using evenings and days off to catch up on repair work that gets interrupted by ringing phones and research. But that just underscores Hodges’ determination to take care of his customers. “I feel that I’m honest and I’ll take care of you right,” he said.

Foothill Custom Cycles is open Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 6pm and Saturdays from ’10:30-ish to 5-ish’. The shop number is (530) 272-1920.

NASCAR Notes: The correct date and time for the next Camping World Truck race is this Saturday at 9:30am PST in Martinsville, VA. The trucks have been off for a few weeks as the season winds down to the NASCAR finals at Homestead, Florida next month.

Charlotte’s Lowe’s Motor Speedway was the place last weekend for the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series with the last night races of the season. Kyle Busch ended an 11-race winless streak Friday night, bringing home the checkers with his seventh win of the season. With four races to go this season, Busch holds a 195-point lead in the championship standings over Carl Edwards. The Nationwide Series races at Memphis Motorsports Park this Saturday; coverage begins at noon PST.

The Sprint Cup teams battled a cold North Carolina night as Jimmie Johnson set a few records and proved statistics don’t always prove true. Johnson went pole-to-pole Saturday evening, notching his sixth win at Lowe’s and winning three of the first five races in the championship chase. He has the points lead with five races to go as the teams roll into Martinsville, one of Johnson’s best tracks; he has won the last two races in a row and five of the last six there. Race coverage begins at 10:00am PST Sunday.

Mark your calendars: PINKS All Out, a popular SPEED channel program, will appear at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma again next year on September 17-18th. Applications for competitors and tickets for fans will be available beginning November 13th, 2009. More information is available at or by calling 1-800-870 RACE (7223).

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